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New compact camera tracking mount

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#1 chboss

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 06:43 AM

Most of us have probably started doing astrophotography with a barn door tracker or with some SLR Piggy backed on a larger mount.

Since the Atrotrac came out I was intersted in something that could be used for starfield pictures, compact enough to be taken on a holiday trip. However the size and the price seemed not suitable for this.
During the total solar eclipse in Turkey 2006 I would have been happy to have a simple tracking device to make my life easier. At that time I did not want to haul my GEM to Turkey for the eclipse and shot the images using a normal tripod which was quite painfull.

Fast forward to 2012 there are now several choices for compact tracking mounts:
- Astrotrac
- Vixen Polarie
- Unitec SWAT-200

But all of them have a price tag that is in the 500 dollar range or even higher...
Recently I discovered a new product sold here in Japan that is more compact and priced at 19'800 Yen (250$) that looks really attractive.
I went to the shop to check it out today and was surprised that the housing feels really solid and still the weight and size are reasonable. The name of the manufacturer is Sightron and they named the device the "nano Tracker" ;)

Here is a link to some online information
(Japanese so you may use Google to translate):
http://www.kyoei-osa...no-tracker.html

I hope to make some real life tests in the comming weeks.
So far it looks solid and easy to use.

best regards
Chris

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#2 Hikari

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 06:25 PM

I look forward to seeing your results.

#3 deepskyguy

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:38 AM

How about one of these?

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#4 TALK2KEV

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 09:55 AM

Chris
looking forward to seeing the pic with thing cool small great for travel easy to carry on a motorcycle

#5 chboss

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 05:42 AM

@Deepskyguy

That single arm Alt-Az is not really suited in the shown configuration for astrophotography, you will get field rotation....
Furthermore the size of this including tripod is too large and heavy in any case.

Images wil not happen soon, the weather is way unstable. As usual when a new toy arrives. ;)

regards
Chris

#6 SomeDoSomeDont

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 11:03 AM

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I'd buy it in a heartbeat if they sold it without the tripod. The last thing I want to buy is yet another tripod taking up space. OK so I put in CN classified. Another hassle. Just knock the price by 50$ and I guarantee a sales jump.
But for a really inexpensive solution I would consider an armless Meade ETX 70-90 base drive pointed at polaris. Saw one sold like that on the other astroM in 2011.
Cheap and no field rotation. But it is a bit heavy.

#7 Ed Wiley

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 09:28 PM

I like my SkyMemo. Not cheap but well made. The tripod is good for traveling, but I got crazy and put it on my G-11 tripod. Slightly more stable. :cool:

Ed

#8 chboss

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 04:47 AM

Hi Ed

The Sky Memo is very nicely made, they had it in the store too to get my hands on.
But the size and weight is just too much, then you could almost get a CG-5 type mount and only be a little bit larger and heavier... ;)

Here in Japan the Sky Memo is offered without tripod for around 68'000 Yen.
So about 3.5x as expensive as the NanoTracker. I think it just depends on what you expect from your single axis mount.

regards
Chris

#9 Pedestal

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 05:20 PM

Sightron has been in the riflescope business for many years. Mostly low end stuff, but some good ones also. I would not be afraid of any of their products.

#10 chboss

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 02:19 AM

Here a short update regarding the Sightron Nano Tracker.
Unfortunately I was not able to produce any photos so far due to time and weather restrictions.

But I had a chance to check the tracking ability in an extreme way, that the small device was certainly not built for. I decided to combine the Nano Tracker with a small Borg Alt-AZ mount and put my Takahashi FS-60Q on top. The long lever created with this construction leads to some vibrations when focusing or moving by hand that needs about 3 seconds to stop.

However when tracking, the image at the eyepiece show a steady image with no visible vibration which is a pleasant surprise at 40x magnification. No question with just a ball head and a camera on top this tracking platform should perform very well for exposure of several minutes in duration.

I am waiting for a chance to test this modular "Frankenmount" on the Moon and Jupiter to see how it performs at higher magnifications.

best regards
Chris

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#11 jmiele

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 08:44 AM

Very cool setup. :) Interested in how it performs.

Joe

#12 chboss

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:31 AM

Just found a link on the Borg blog here in Japan.
Seems they sell this combination already since end of June so my idea was not so original... as long as it works I am happy. :)

Here is the link to the Borg site:
http://www.tomytec.c...6/20120628.html

regards
Chris

#13 Traveler

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 07:21 AM

Thanks for the link Chris. Looks very compact.

#14 hottr6

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 07:54 AM

Maybe not very compact (though it does not need a tripod), and a whole lot cheaper, a ETX90 mount can be picked up and modified with a ball-head for less than $50.

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#15 jmiele

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 08:29 AM

That's a darn good idea there. :)

Nice work hottr6!

Joe

#16 chboss

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 07:48 AM

Jepp this will certainly work and for small money. ;)
Just a bit big for transport. How heavy is the ETX 90 base?

regards
Chris

#17 TONGKW

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 08:26 AM

When traveling I often take my Vixen Polarie star tracker and leaving other heavy stuffs behind.
Besides taking pictures of the star field, herewith my Polarie is outfitted for occasional observation of the moon and planets with a mini Borg 50 refractor OTA and a photo tripod.

K W TONG
C8+CG5 GT, TSA102+HEQ5 PRO, MK67+Voyager, NexStar 6SE, C5+Mizar K, WO ZS80FD+Kenko NES, Megrez 72FD+Kenko KDS, Mini Borg 50, PST

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#18 chboss

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:47 PM

Nice KW basically the same idea!
Is this setup stable enough so a camera can be used at the scope for solar eclipse work?

regards
Chris

#19 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 10:00 PM

I like the Vixen Polarie. I've written a letter to Santa asking for it this Christmas. Hopefully I've been good.

#20 chboss

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 11:02 PM

The Vixen Polarie is well made with a range of accessories such as the tool to adjust angle and direction called "Polariemeter":
http://www.vixenopti...unts/35511.html
Santa will certainly agree with your wish. :)

But size, weight and price have finally steered me to the Sightron Nano. ;)

regards
Chris

#21 TONGKW

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 11:44 PM

I find this set up to be not stable enough for a DSLR with a telephoto lens.
For more serious attempt on astrophotography, I find it necessary to put on some balance weight system (my homemade version is shown here).
In fact some companies has already started to market these balance weight system for the Vixen Polarie and other star trackers.
http://telescodelive...ou/cat11381474/

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#22 chboss

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 09:28 PM

Proper balance is always an important point, great idea for the balancing system and thank you for the link!

regards
Chris

#23 chboss

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 07:00 PM

Some update regarding the setup shown below.
Yesterday I had the chance to observe Jupiter at 100x whit the FS-60Q for about 45 minutes. Tracking was smooth but I need to align the mount more accurate for these high magnifications.

The small hole for polar alignment is not easy to use. From my position on a balcony I can not see Polaris. At the moment I am using my mobile phone to adjust angle and north direction.
I am considering adding Vixens solution for angle and direction alignment.
But overall it is working well with this high load

best regards
Chris

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#24 orlyandico

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 10:26 PM

i have learned to my cost that the compass and tilt sensor in the typical mobile phone (i have a GNex) are quite inaccurate. the compass is far more inaccurate than the tilt sensor, so altitude adjustment can be fairly close.

useful only for visual. if you try AP with a "phone alignment" your DEC will rapidly run away due to bad azimuth alignment.

#25 PGW Steve

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:07 PM

I've got an Astrotrac that I use with their wedge and head with CW system. I have no problems with 5 minute exposures at 400mm once I do a DDA (digital drift alignment), my new term.

I was intrigued by the Polarie for wide field, ~50mm stuff and under for 2 minutes, plus slimmed down travel. Last new moon, at our club star party, I gave the Polarie a good workout with a 50mm on a 60Da. Great stars for 2 minute shots, I never tried more length, or time. I have the PAS and it works great. I just took the Polarie to Switzerland and it delivered the goods.

I picked up the Nano prior to my Swiss trip, because of its tiny size. I had high hopes for it as it feels solid. The sight hole is useless for PA and 2 minute shots at 50mm were horrible. I tried PA again and got closer, but it still was lacking. Until I come up with a small, accurate method of PA, the Nano isn't getting any star time.

The Polarie is a fantastic rig, the PAS is awesome. I'm glad I bought both, I can't see this being accurate with the same sight hole as the Nano. The Astrotrac too, is better suited for longer focal lengths. It needs a bit more gear to really get the most out of the longer focal lengths. Working within each trackers comfort zone, they excel. I'm looking forward to assessing the Nanos tracking once polar alignment isn't a factor, because that is the bottom line.






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